Home / Politics / Policy /  Kerala links Aadhaar to attendance, salary for all govt officials

Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has made Aadhaar-based attendance mandatory for all government offices in the state, contradicting the stand of Left parties countrywide on the biometric identification project.

Leaders of Left parties in India, especially those from Kerala, have made some of the most fervent speeches against Aadhaar in public meetings and in Parliament.

All government offices are to install Aadhaar-based biometric attendance systems within six months, according to the 6 May order. As such, 560,000 officials, from those in the secretariat to government school staff, will need an Aadhaar number to draw their salaries.

“The Aadhaar-based biometric punching system should be set up in SPARK (Service and Payroll Administrative Repository for Kerala) linked disbursal of salaries in all government offices, education centres," reads the order.

This contradicts the stand taken by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM. Party leaders had protested against the centre mandatorily linking Aadhaar to government benefits. The Supreme Court later gave a go-ahead for the centre to link Aadhaar for subsidies. Binoy Viswam, a leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI) was one of the early petitioners in the top court against making Aadhaar mandatory for return filings. Viswam was unavailable for comment. The CPM also alleged leakage of information from the Aadhaar database, but officials have denied this.

“Financially, it is a burden for the state. UIDAI will charge 20 for each e-KYC authentication and 50 paise for every simple Yes or No authentication," said Anivar Aravind, a digital rights activist and executive director of Indic Project, an online resource development tool for Indian languages. Without e-KYC, Kerala will spend 5.6 lakh everyday, as officers will have to punch twice a day.

Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac did not comment. However, a senior official in the department, requesting not to be named, said such a move “seems financially unfeasible". “This was not discussed with the minister. This was not a cabinet decision," he said.

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